Saturday, 3 January 2015

That's it: The End

And so it ends...

... so what did we think about this adventure? Have a look HERE.

Before we sign off, just to complete the story:

After a day in Capetown, reminding ourselves of what an amazing place this town is, next morning we drop Charles back at BOBO Campers and say goodbye to our fellow travellers and friends before taking an early minibus, driven by Rian, to the airport - our flight is earlier than the main tour and via Dubai. Rian reminds us that Namibian dust is still in our veins, so he will obviously see us again before too long. I wonder.. I really wonder...

Final Goodbye Drink on the V&A waterfront in front of a Capetown Christmas Tree;

The flight is quite uneventful apart from an exciting nosebleed for Sue in Dubai airport - which relieves the boredom at any rate. Slightly confusing that we get two breakfasts (two flights) and lunch at 8.30 am UK time. And why is it that I just get off to sleep 10 minutes before a meal is served? Can't fault Emirates though.
Pick up (heavy) luggage.
Taxi back.
The End.


Arriving back just before Christmas turns out to be a Great Idea as we miss out on all the hysteria, planning, buying. Turns out to be an unexpectedly good one, too. No real Christmas tree, though, for the first time in years - I assemble our Rocket Tree (as it is affectionately known) in the lounge instead which goes down well with our dear daughters.

Time to reflect....
 Off to Spain in January... Meet up with friends and live our wonderful Spanish life... Pick up our new van in February/March... New adventures but perhaps not such an exciting year ahead; we need a rest.... but you never know.... Let's do more of our UK coastal tour...

The famous Rocket Tree

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The End (almost)

Well, all good things must come to an end.. and so it (almost) has.

As is always the case with these adventures.. certainly for me anyway.. the last few days pass in a bit of a blur.

After our (very enjoyable) solo adventure in the wonderful Fish River Canyon we join the rest of the group in a red hot campsite where the only thing to do is loaf in a hot spa, swimming pool or bar ... all of which we do. Even the cold shower is hot for goodness sake. SO glad we didn't spend two days here...

...The (very) sad thing about the next day is that we leave Namibia. As Mr Fix-it ( ...No, let's give this wonderful guy his real name) ... As Rian says about us, we have the Namibian dust in our blood now... and we will be back. Will we? I don't know, but it's certainly left its mark on us...

After the border crossing, we head for Springbok in South Africa. The stark scenery is magnificent.. and it's relaxing to travel on tarmac roads again... although it's really, really annoying having to move over everytime someone want's to overtake, as is the code in South Africa... Then we all clean the Namibian dust out of our vans as far as we can... but Charles does spruce up quite well actually...
Then we travel to Citrus Creek, do some wine tasting on route and start packing... Ugh! Starting to get grumpy, I know, I know. It's just that, inevitably, the old brain starts to cycle into 'what we have to do when we get back' mode. It's also going to be really good to see family again. It's Christmas, for goodness sake!

Finally, after a couple of interesting detours with our trusty travelling companions we reach the campsite where all this started for us in October at Melkbossstrand, just outside Cape Town and not far ftom the Bobo depot where we return Charles the day after tomorrow. Feels wierd to be here again. After almost finishing cleaning and packing, we have a final Braai with friends before bed.

We enlist the help of Mr Mongoose to check out the tyres (really important job out here)

A day in Cape Town tomorrow, a farewell meal, then we return Charles and it's off to the airport the next day.

One more post and that's it folks...

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Wild horses and more

Before I start, apologies for the lack of images; it's the lack of WiFi as we travel, you see.. Check again later as I'll stick a few more on when poss.

So, it's a dusty rough drive to Aus, and on the drive, friend Malcomb's turbo pipe falls off. All's well though as Mr Fix-it escorts them to  garage and fixes it himself with clips and stuff. That man again...

On the way, we visit Duwisib Castle, a surreal European mini castle, built in 1909 by Baron Hans Heinrich von Wolf. Wierd. One rumour has it that it was his horses that went feral to start the desert wild horses. Worth the visit though.

Meanwhile, we drive on past the campsite as the road suddenly improves...tarmac! We want to see the famous desert feral horses... and we see over a hundred. Amazing how they have adapted to these very harsh desert conditions. Don't seem very feral but apparantly they are uncatchable.

We tour the mini town of Aus, not missing the great information centre, showing how German occupation affected the residents. Really good, this. We have a drink with Mr Fix-it who suggests a visit to one of his home towns, Luderitz. We vow to get up a 5am and do the 4.5 hour trip before we head off to the fish river canyon tomorrow. Looks good in Lonely Planet.
Another Braai with friends...ah...sigh... this is the life...
So today it's up a 5.00, walking to the shower, hoping we don't tread on a dodgy spider, which can cause a bit of a painful problem around here...ask friend Richard.

...Then we're off at high speed in a convoy of three vans (usual suspects) with Sue driving... it's a long, long day. Really worthwhile visit to the old German colonial style ex-diamond mining town, though. Although we can't get inside the Lutheran Church, we certainly get a flavour of the town ...and the Diaz Coffee Shop is simply... well ... out of this world. 

But it's the drive here that takes our breath away as we motor through the constantly changing desert as the Atlantic winds rapidly shift the sand. Really, really top class drive.
We push hard on the way back, as there's a long way to go. We calculate fuel stops to avoid lengthy waits at the start. I get it right...quite tight though. Our day-book suggests a fuel stop at Seeheim.. but when we get there, running on the low fuel light, all we can find is a hotel selling super-high price fuel from a big overhead tank. Hobson's choice .. but the vans run on it OK. Grinding of teeth all round.
We plough on ...and on, on dusty gravel roads

 ... we're doing around 500km after our morning jaunt... We finally get to a fantastic look-out point above the deep, wide Fish River Canyon. Impressive stuff indeed. It's our turn for a puncture though.. but with friend Malcomb's help, it's changed in a jiffy... and they escort us to the nearby, amazingly odd roadside cafe 4km away. (It's full of old lorries and cars amongst the tables..) After the repair we decide not to go on another hour to the destination at Ai Ais but camp in the canyon  campsite ... and it's part of the same state concern as Ai Ais so it's free!

So here we are, by ourselves for a change, which, I have to say, is quite nice - as much as we love travelling with friends, we've been in a group since October, for all but one week. Chilling time.

Back to the canyon in the early morning sun tomorrow ...a nice long walk around it.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Into the Desert

No idea when we will get WiFi...but writing this in the unconnected desert here goes....
...We leave the luxury of the Swakopmund campsite for a 300km drive to Solitaire, but before we get under way, there's the matter of a visit to the local garage for remedial work on Charles' air-con. With Mr Fix-it's assistance, it's done in a jif (well 1 1/2 hours) and we join our patient travelling companions for a coffee before we set off, travelling through the Namib desert area. 
As it happens, the mist has cleared by the time we arrive at the challenging Dune 7 (such an evocative name..) so, of course, we have to climb it. Hellish satisfaction, I recon...and a fantastic view, too. Dune 7 - tick.
We drive (with blissful air-con) through the wonderful Kuiseb and Gaub passes and some quite magic, stark scenery before arriving at the wierd, v. small town if Solitaire, population 97 and rising. Another braai then to bed.
Next day, we're off to Sesriem  and, for a change, we're first there to get info on the Sossusvlei Dunes before dropping off our tables to mark our pitch.. as we're not last for a change...
..then we're off into the amazing park with hge highest dunes in the world. We climb Dune 45 (Hell but satisfying..Dune 45 tick), take a 4x4 trip to the ring of Sossusvlei dunes, do a 2 km walk and generally go Wow! Goodness! before returning, quite late, to camp.
Next morning, we get up at 4.15 (really!) to set off at 5.00am to see the sunrise in the dunes. Brilliant!.... but we didn't expect to see around 50 youngish fit-types climbing Dunes 45. Been there done that!
We get some dune-in-the-morning-light pics before returning, at some speed, to meet friends for breakfast in the campsite restaurant.
Then we walk for a couple of hours in the nearby hot, hot gorge before fuelling and getting under way ... or so we thought... Puncture! ... not ours but a travelling partner's. So we change it, repair it at the garage. Then we're off .... until we stop to help another Bobo group with a PUNCTURE!
The rest of the day is a long drive through D Roads as the original route  has deteriorated too far. We arrive just in time for a communal braai, cooked by ... you guessed .. Mr fix-it. Great stuff.
More desert tomorrow.
Dune 7 - Tick

Dune 45 - Looks like a Challenge

Dune 45 - Tick

 Looks dodgy, Sue

Goodbye Dune 45

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Swakopmund Holiday

But before we get to our holiday camp, we have to get there, if you see what I mean...

...So, with our trusty travelling companions, we're up at 5.30 and on the road by 6.30 because we want to see the famous 'White Lady' rock painting (which, we are told, is not a white lady as first thought but a white-painted participant in a tribal ritual). It's a 50 km treck and a two hour guided walk to get there but the whole mini adventure more than worth it. Great guide.

Trouble is, after another 200km or so on rough, dry, unsurfaced desert roads we end up being last in, which is a bit unfair on Mr Fix-It who needs to take Charles apart to get a bit of welding done for the air con. Don't blame him for being a bit hacked off..and a hacked off Mr Fix-It is not a pretty site (ex cop, ex mounted armed poacher hunter amongst many other things). All OK now though..he's a great guy. Outcome is that  we have to get it done Monday morning.

In search of the White Lady

On the way we spy a lizard type thingy (Sorry, I'm really really poor at this)

Back on the road? to the coast

Charles has lost his cool

Wierd here though. The cold Atlantic and hot desert airs meet and form mist so the temperature drops from 39 to 15 degrees over 20km as we motor in. Pleasant change in some ways though.

The site is truly truly wonderful. This is a holiday town and we have our own numbered pitch with private  bathroom, braai, washing sink. Oh bliss! We're here for three nights, too.
The next day we have a seal and dolphin spotting cruise from the next town, Walvisbaai. Didn't know what to expect but we certainly didn't expect this!.. so I'm going a little overboard (ouch!) on the description...

We hop on a big catamaran and motor soon as we're moving, four flipping great pelicans land on the front and stick their beaks in to say hello. We've just got over that when there is a scream from starboard (right side..impressed eh!) as a seal leaps aboard and sits with us. Turns out the captain raises orphan birds  and things in her spare time. She's a real character and the whole thing is like a movie wouldn't believe. These animals know her and call in the say hi, and take the odd fish or two. Then we have 'Namibian coffee', which turns out to be a sherry-like drink, followed by a real coffee, followed by beer, followed by oysters and sparkling wine....

.....then we chase bottle-nose dolphins and the Captain is clearly madly overjoyed at seeing them ..first time in three weeks apparantly. Then we are taken to see thousands of breeding seals. The Cap'n asks the name of our intrepid leader..and when he repies Nelson, she says 'well, I have a seagull called Nelson'. Unlikely we think, then 5  minutes later  the real Nelson (as in white feathery bird) turns up and perches next to the Cap'n. What the hell is in that Namibian coffee! This is surreal in the extreme..., heading back, when we think things can't get much wierder, Cap'n leaps onto the bow and hollers in a strange very loud manner..... and three pelicans fly alongside in perfect formation, touching the water before peeling away. Then she does it again..same result. 'Reared 'em' says she....

Did that really happen? Africa!

Lots of seals...

Anyway, back at our luxury camp we are treated to a Namibian pot meal by Mr Fix-It..and damn good it is too.

...and so to today...Sunday

Lie-in (wonderful), washing (ugh!), walk into town to buy some stuff at the craft market (great), walk in again to have Sunday lunch with friends (really great). Sort out route and arrangements for tomorrow then update blog.....
Forget luxury for the next few's into the desert proper, hopefully with air-con. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Heading South

Beginning to head south again now...

From Etosha, we head towards Khorixas to stay at the iGowati Lodge in the centre of the (very) small town...

On the way we take a detour to see an amazing rock that stands alone in a wide valley, once a great river, long since gone. Presumably harder than the surrounding rock so it didn't erode..but it looks like sandatone to me... After getting the motorhomes there we climb to the rock in 37 degree heat....but what a view. Brilliant. Intrepid travellers we are indeed.

We visit a museum and see a piece of farm equipment made in Earls Colne (near to our UK home)...  out here in Africa for goodness sake. Wierd.

We finish the day with another braai with friends...and a bottle.

Moving further south to Uis, our journey becomes a little more taxing as the roads change into sandy, unsurfaced tracks that are periodically scraped to remove the mysterious ridges that always appear. These washboard roads can be traversed at around 60 km/hr unless the ridges suddenly get deeper or change width as so often happens.... then the vibration changes to violent shaking and slowing down rapidly is the only sensible  course of's maximum concentration though.

We travel as a four-van mini convoy for safety today.. and also because we want to see the same things.... like minded and all that.

...So we carefully drive the washboards to see the petrified forest, 6000 year old scrapings on sandstone, basalt columns known as the 'organ pipes'  and  anomolous volcanic remains (Burned Mountain) before we head for fuel and camp, hot and tired, ready for our communal meal. Which was good by the way.

African proverb to explain the restaurant service...

Let's climb that famous landmark..

Magic... mad English people

Very frightened wood..How does that happen?

Spot the 6000 year old drawings

Bobo adventuring...that's Charles in front (without air-con)

I think we got the maximum out of that day...

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Etosha National Park

So, it's back to animal spotting again folks...

....but before we get to that, we take a detour to see the largest known meteorite....50 tons of Iron-Nickel alloy. Dated to be around 80,000 years old....that's, er, quite a long time ago. Given my physics background, I get quite a buzz from touching this alien lump of metal. Probably because there's thunder about.

...back to the Park..and animals... This time we're in the Etosha National Park which encompasses a huge salt-pan....(Etosha = 'large white place')....the remains of a lake long evaporated. We stay in two different lodges, each with its own Namibian (slightly off-hand)  character as we animal spot, motoring around the unsufaced corrugated roads, shaking our motorhomes to bits. The wildlife is great though, although we seem to have missed the opportunity to see a leopard in the wild. On the last day we see the awful but fascinating sight of jackals, hyenas and vultures devouring a rotting elephant carcass. We also see two of the rare black rhino at our lodge campsite waterhole. Impressive stuff indeed.
The salt pan is just amazingly odd... a massive totally flat area, baking in the hot, hot sun...

..... talking of hotness, it's got up to 39 degrees C on Charles' dashboard readout, which makes the fact that a cable rubs its way through an air conditioning pipe with a puff of escaping gas more than slightly annoying. This has a drastic effect on the ability of Charles to keep us cool of course. It's kaput, broken... damn. I couldn't even get out to see what happened without being eaten, either. Design fault, Iveco!

....That's not all either; we discover that our amazing Mr Fix-it' s camper burst into flames in the night, slightly burning him, but not too seriously, thank goodness... and he's off sorting a replacement.
Anyway, here we are now, camped just outside the park. Mr Fix'-it is back but can't do much for another three days as we need aluminium arc-welding gear. Hey oh.

80,000 years old...
 Rain BoBo

Design fault Mr Iveco!

 Black Rhino!
Hippo luuurve
 Waste nothing....

Interesting terrain and things to see ahead, it seems, and we are to be allowed to travel on a 'D' road, which means rough, I think. This is Good News because we can see some 'not-to-be-missed' sights. Hot stuff.